This article published in the Economic and Political Weekly briefly attempts to set forth the nature of the Mullaperiyar dispute.
It makes some suggestions on the way in which it may be useful to proceed. The article argues that a new case has now been added to the existing list of river-water disputes and that the issue has turned very crucial as feelings are running high on the Mullapperiyar issue in both Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and that there is a risk that the dispute might become intractable. The article warns that wisdom is needed to avoid a serious deterioration of the relations between the two states.
The article briefly discusses the nature of the debate between the two states of Kearala and Tamil Nadu. The article argues that the dispute is essentially about the disagreement between the two states over raising the level of the water in the dam for the purpose of providing some more water for the beneficiary areas in Tamil Nadu vs the need expressed by the state of Kerala to keep the water level low due to safety issues arising because of the 100 year old dam.
The article makes the following suggestions to resolve the issue:
- People in either state (that includes the general public, politicians, engineers, administrators and the media) must stop demonising the people in the other state
- Civil society initiatives of the kind attempted by the Madras Institute of Development Studies in the Cauvery case must be tried
- The two state governments should continue to talk to each other and refrain from going to the Supreme Court. Dam safety is not a matter for judicial determination
- The two governments must re-discuss the MP and PA agreements and arrive at settlements that seem manifestly fair and acceptable to both sides
- Preferably, the waterlevel in MP should not be raised above 136'. Accepting that position, Tamil Nadu should seriously examine the possibilities of promoting better water management in the areas in question, with a view to getting more out of the available water
- If it is considered necessary to raise the water-level to 142', the two governments should set up a joint expert committee (including dam-break experts) to arrive at an agreed finding on the safety of the MP dam (even at the existing water-level), and the risks, if any, in raising the water-level
- The two governments should begin the process of examining the eventual phasing out of the MP dam and exploring alternatives
A copy of the entire article can be downloaded from below: